Home » Bible Truths and Studies » Prophecy » WORDS OF WARNING (Matthew Chapter 24)
|WORDS OF WARNING [message #2979]
||Sat, 24 October 2020 06:46
Registered: September 2015
WORDS OF WARNING
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
This was the most solemn denunciation ever uttered against Jerusalem. After denouncing the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders, who, while they worshiped the temple, were working with a hatred inspired by Satan to destroy the only One who made the temple sacred, Christ bade adieu to the once hallowed courts. He quitted the temple forever, declaring, "Your house is left unto you desolate."
Henceforth a cloud blacker than sackcloth hung over the once favored nation. Looking into the future, Christ saw the gates of Jerusalem burst open by the Roman legions. He saw the walls broken, and the beautiful stones, which had been laid with artistic skill one upon another, torn down, so that not one was left standing. The Arm strong to save had become strong to smite.
Solemn judgments had been pronounced against Jerusalem by the prophets. Its iniquity and crime had once caused it to be destroyed, and its people carried captive to Babylon. In their humiliation, many sought the Lord with repentance and confession; and when they returned from captivity, they seemed for a time to reform. In his mercy, God forgave them, and gave them his blessing. "I will not contend forever," he declares, "neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him."
But the leaders of the people did not remain converted. They did not, as faithful sentinels, keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. Again and again the word of the Lord through his prophets was rejected. Then God sent his only begotten Son with a message of mercy; but they refused to receive him, and said, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours." Christ "came unto his own, and his own received him not."
The time of the greatest responsibility for the Jewish people was when Christ was among them. And had they but known it, this was also the time of their greatest privilege and blessing. But they refused every overture of mercy, and rejected the Son of God, and thus made themselves guilty of the greatest of all sins.
Christ charged the whole nation with this sin. In rejecting my servants and prophets, he said, you have not only rejected them, but the Son of God, whose you are by creation and by redemption. You would none of my counsel, you despised all my reproof. If you are destroyed, you yourselves will be responsible. I have offered you help because I loved you, but you would not come unto me, that you might have life.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" You have refused to see in me a merciful Saviour, offering your redemption. When God's heavy judgments fall upon you, you will still refuse to see in me a sin-pardoning Saviour. But you will one day long for the Deliverer who was once among you, and whom you would not receive.
Thus with power and authority our Lord reproved the Jewish nation. "Ye shall not see me henceforth," he continued, "till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." When the Jewish people see Christ again, they will ask no sign. That day will not be to them a day of joy, although, as they see the One they rejected, the acknowledgment will come from their lips, with overwhelming power, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." When Christ comes in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, they will praise him whom they once cursed; but it will then be too late.
Jerusalem was lost because of its obstinate refusal to acknowledge the truth. This the world is doing today. Men refuse to see the truth that is plainly revealed in the word of God. A "Thus saith the Lord" is regarded as of no account, while the words of men are given great authority.
And as the inhabitants of Jerusalem were punished, so will those be punished who refuse to receive truth.
God would have us realize that by the city of Jerusalem a world is represented.
Christ's utterances regarding the destruction of Jerusalem are ever to be connected with the more terrible destruction of the world.
The disciples were unable to understand Christ's words with reference to the temple. They called his attention to its massive stones, saying, "Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here." The stones of the temple were of the purest marble, of perfect whiteness, and the pillars supporting the porches were of massive dimensions. How such stones could be overthrown, the disciples could not comprehend. They could not understand words which doomed to destruction the walls that had withstood the devastation of armies. Their ideas were vague, and it was difficult for the Lord to make his lessons intelligible to them.
As the attention of the rejected One was called to the magnificence of the temple, what must have been his thoughts! The view before him was indeed beautiful; but he said, sadly: I see it all, and the buildings are indeed wonderful. You point to these stones as apparently indestructible, but listen to my words. I tell you solemnly that the day will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down. Forty years after Christ uttered this prediction, his words were fulfilled to the letter. In the siege of Jerusalem it is stated that more than a million people perished, and that many were led into captivity.
Christ's words had been spoken in the hearing of a large number of people; but when he was again alone, Peter, James, John, and Andrew came to him, saying, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
In his answer, Jesus did not take up separately the destruction of Jerusalem and the last great day of his coming. He mingled the description of these two events. When he spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, his words referred also to the final destruction that will take place when the Lord rises out of his place to punish the world for its iniquity.
The entire chapter in which are recorded Christ's words regarding this, is a warning to all who shall live during the last scenes of this earth's history.
Turning to his disciples, Christ said, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Many false Messiahs will appear, claiming to work miracles, and declaring that the time for the deliverance of the Jewish nation has come. These will mislead many.
These words were fulfilled. Between the death of Christ and the siege of Jerusalem, many false Christs appeared. But this warning is given also to those who live in this age of the world.
The same deceptions practised prior to the destruction of Jerusalem will again be practised.
The same events that took place at the overthrow of Jerusalem will take place again.
"And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, men wrestled for the supremacy. Emperors were murdered. Those standing next to the throne were slain. "All these things must come to pass, but the end [of the Jewish nation as a nation] is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." As the rabbis see these signs, Christ said, they will declare that they are God's judgments on the nations for holding his chosen people in bondage. They will say that these signs are the tokens of the advent of the Messiah. Be not deceived; they are the beginning of his judgments. The Jewish people have looked to themselves. They have not repented and been converted, that I should heal them. The signs that they argue as tokens of their release from bondage are signs of their destruction.
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted," Christ continued, "and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another." All this the Christians suffered. Fathers and mothers betrayed their children; children betrayed their parents; friends delivered their friends to the Sanhedrin. Until he himself was converted, Saul of Tarsus was exceedingly bitter against all who believed in Christ. He then began to preach Christ and him crucified, and the enemies of the gospel caused him and Silas to be whipped, and thrown into prison.
Through the apostles, God gave the Jewish people a last opportunity to repent. But they turned away from every entreaty. In the arrest, the trial, and the imprisonment of his witnesses, God manifested himself. He gave them words to speak, and a tongue and voice with which to vindicate the truth and acknowledge him as the Son of God. They were men of whom the world was not worthy, yet their judges pronounced on them the death sentence. They were not allowed to live and serve their God. By killing them, the Jews crucified afresh the Son of God.
So it will be again.
But it is over the seventh-day Sabbath that the battle will be fought.
The authorities of this world will rise up in their pride and power to make laws to restrict religious liberty. They will assume a right that is God's alone, and, like Nebuchadnezzar, will think that they can force the conscience, which only God can control. Even now they are making a beginning, and this they will carry forward till they reach a boundary over which they can not step. Then God will interpose in behalf of his loyal, commandment-keeping people.
Christ told his disciples that they would be delivered up to councils; but he told them, also, that they were not to be anxious as to how they should vindicate the truth; for he would give them a mouth and wisdom that all their adversaries could not gainsay nor resist. These words were fulfilled at the trial of Stephen, and at the trial of Paul, who made Felix tremble as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.
Whenever persecution takes place, the spectators make decisions either for or against Christ. Because of persecution, many will be offended. The principles of the truth cut directly across their practise, and they will stumble and fall, apostatizing from the faith they once advocated. Many who have professed to love the truth will then show that they have no vital union with the True Vine. They will be cut away, as branches that bear no fruit, and will be bound up with unbelievers, scoffers, and mockers.
Those who apostatize in time of trial will bear false witness and betray their brethren, to secure their own safety. They will tell where their brethren are concealed, putting the wolves on their track. Christ has warned us of this, that we may not be surprised at the cruel, unnatural course pursued by friends and relatives. "Little children, it is the last time," John writes, "and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many." False Christs did arise, deceiving the people, and leading great numbers into the desert. Magicians and sorcerers, claiming miraculous power, drew the people after them into the mountain solitudes.
But this prophecy was also spoken for the last days.
Companies inspired by Satan will be formed to deceive and delude.
This will be a sign of the second advent.
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains [let there be no presumptuous dallying]: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." Forty years afterward, at the siege of Jerusalem, the Christians obeyed this warning; and not a Christian perished in the destruction of the city.
"Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." Christ made the Sabbath, and he never abolished it. The Sabbath was not rendered null and void by the crucifixion, as many claim. Christ's death on the cross is an unanswerable argument in favor of the changeless character of every precept of God's holy law.
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets," Christ said; "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." As the head of the human family, he lived every precept, every jot, every tittle, of the law. He lived in humanity the life that he requires his followers to live, and therefore there is no excuse for any one to fail of reaching the standard of perfection.
Christ emphasizes his words: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." So long as the heavens and the earth remain, so long will the Sabbath of the fourth commandment hold its claim on the human family.
The Sabbath was given to the world as the memorial of creation. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy," God says. "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it."
God gave explicit directions concerning his Sabbath. "Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep," he declared; "for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. . . . Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh he rested, and was refreshed."
But human lawmakers speak, saying: Verily, the first day of the week shall ye keep, because it is the world's sabbath. The churches keep this day holy, and those under our supervision shall keep it also, because it is so ordained on our statute-books. We have chosen Sunday as the sabbath, and men must keep it.
But this day so universally exalted is a spurious sabbath, a common working-day. It is accepted in the place of the day that the Lord has blessed and sanctified; but the sure result of this course may be seen in the punishment which fell upon Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron. As priests of God, these men had been commanded to offer always the fire of God's own kindling, which was kept burning before God day and night. This was ever to be strictly observed. But Nadab and Abihu drank wine too freely; and because of this their minds were not keen, but confused, and they were unable to distinguish between the sacred and the common. They took their censers, "and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord."
God has given full directions regarding his law, so that none need be left in darkness, unless they choose darkness rather than light. But the apostasy of the Jewish nation represents the apostasy that will be made by the world in the last days. Just as the Jews chose darkness in regard to the message that Christ came to the world to bring, so men today are choosing darkness. Sanctified and blessed by God, the Sabbath was designed to be the great memorial of creation, and a blessing to mankind. But men are trampling it underfoot. It is the test of today, as Christ was the test when he was in our world in human form. It will ever stand unmoved, a rock of offense to the Christian world, as was Christ to the Jewish nation. As the rejection of Christ decided the eternal destiny of the Jews, so the rejection of God's holy memorial will decide the fate of many professing Christians.
Men may ignore the Sabbath, they may trample it under their feet; but they can not make it less binding upon them. No one has any excuse for accepting the rubbish that has been piled upon the Sabbath of the Lord. No one has any excuse for accepting a human sabbath, created by him whom God designates as the "man of sin," who shall think to change times and laws. He thinks to, but he does not do it; although he may think thus to show his supremacy over God, he can not change God's law; this is God's prerogative only. God is over all kings and rulers. He is God, and besides him there is none else.
The statutes of the Lord are to be reverenced and obeyed. God is supreme authority; and when his law is set aside as a matter of no consequence, the transgressor must surely bear the results of his own sin, though God bears long with him.
"Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
Here, again, the warning regarding the destruction of Jerusalem is blended with the warning of the second advent. The disciples heard Christ's words, but they did not then fully understand them. It was necessary for the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth, bringing to their remembrance all things that Christ had said to them. They could not understand why he connected the perils of the overthrow of Jerusalem with the perils of the last days. But those who live in this age may understand Christ's warning, and should place it in the period where it belongs.
The gospel must be carried to every kingdom under heaven, and then shall the end come.
Christ knew that the disciples could not comprehend the instruction he had given them in answer to their question, "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" He knew the terrible future of the once-chosen people of God; but he knew, also, that his disciples could not then fully understand his description of the fearful scenes to be enacted at the destruction of Jerusalem.
In his answer, the two events--the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of the world--were merged into one.
It was in mercy to his disciples that Christ blended these events, leaving them to study out the meaning for themselves.
Christ had made every effort to keep his disciples informed in regard to the truth. He had given them every opportunity to know the truth. He had invited them to put their confidence in him as the Messiah, and in his mission and work, but they had not yet a proper understanding of the nature of his kingdom. They were thrilled with distress as they listened to his lamentation over Jerusalem; but they did not realize the true meaning of his words. Had Christ opened the future to them as he saw it, they would have been unable to endure the scene. To the last, they looked for a temporal kingdom, to be established at Jerusalem. Christ's revelation of the scenes to take place at the destruction of Jerusalem, they associated with his personal coming, when he himself would punish the Jews, but would also free them from Roman bondage. He had told them definitely that he would come a second time, and they thought that probably his judgments would fall upon those who had rejected his love. He would then, they thought, lay low every stone in the temple; for they believed that no earthly power could do this.
But long before Christ's second coming, retribution fell upon the apostate nation, which was still further to show its hatred against Christ by its treatment of his followers.
From the destruction of Jerusalem, Christ passed on to a much greater event,
--the last link in the chain of this earth's history,
--the coming of the Son of God in majesty and glory.
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days," he said, "shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, when they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Christ gave special directions in regard to this event. "Now learn a parable of the fig-tree," he said; "when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation [the generation that saw the signs] shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Christ plainly said that he himself could not make known the day or the hour of his second appearing. Had he been at liberty to make this time known, what need would there have been for him to exhort his followers to maintain an attitude of earnest watchfulness, living, working, and waiting as if their time was not their own, but the Lord's; cultivating fidelity, faith, and love; and purifying the soul through the truth?
Christ told his disciples that the time of his coming was involved in secrecy; yet notwithstanding this, there have been and will be those who claim to know when this great event will take place. Very earnest they are in trying to map out the future, which the Lord has placed in a thick cloud; and notwithstanding their failures, they continue their work. But their reasoning is false, and the Lord has warned them off the ground they occupy; for the coming of the Son of man is God's mystery. "Secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever."
"But as the days of Noe were," Christ continued, "so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Christ does not here bring to view a temporal millennium,--a thousand years in which all are to prepare for eternity. He tells us that as it was in Noah's day, so will it be when the Son of man comes.
How was it in Noah's day?--"God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Had man co-operated with God, there would have been no Cain-worshipers. Abel's example of obedience would have been followed. Men might have worked out the will of God. They might have obeyed his law, and in obedience they would have found salvation. God and the heavenly universe would have helped them to retain the divine likeness. Longevity would have been preserved; and God would have delighted in the work of his hands. But the inhabitants of the antediluvian world turned from Jehovah, refusing to do his will. They followed their unholy imagination and perverted ideas. "God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, . . . Make thee an ark of gopherwood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. . . . And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die."
Remember the warning, "As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." It was because of the wickedness of the inhabitants of the old world, that they were destroyed; and today the world is following in the same way. No flattering signs of millennial glory are to be seen. Human lawmakers open their law-books, and pronounce sentence against those who do not keep their laws. But those who frame and enforce these laws are themselves transgressors of God's law, and their transgression is filling the earth with wickedness. Betting, horse-racing, gambling, dissipation, lustful practises, untamable passions, are fast filling the earth with violence and moral pollution. Bank failures ruin thousands of families. Widows and orphans are left to starve.
Every species of indulgence prevails.
Men have become so infatuated with vice that they will not listen to warnings or appeals.
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. . . . Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
This is the day of the Lord's preparation. He says: "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." The great work from which the mind should not be diverted, is the consideration of our safety in the sight of God. The storm is coming, relentless in its fury.
Are we prepared to meet it?
Are our feet on the Rock of Ages?
Are we one with Christ, as he is one with the Father?
RH – The Review and Herald
December 13, 1898 Words of Warning.--No. 1.
December 20, 1898 Words of Warning.--No. 2.
December 27, 1898 Words of Warning.--No. 3.
Mrs. E. G. White.
Your brother in Christ
Current Time: Thu Dec 03 21:01:31 PST 2020
Total time taken to generate the page: 0.02134 seconds